Tag Archives: Karan

Restaurant Review: Rivendell Restaurant a new start for Chef Thomas Sinn, whale of a good value!

Rivendell Exterior Whale CottageJardine at Jordan Manager and former Sinn employee Riaan Moll told me recently that Chef Thomas Sinn, once an Eat Out Top Restaurant Chef, has closed down all his restaurant interests in Cape Town, and has opened Rivendell Restaurant on the road to Hermanus, near the turn-off to Kleinmond and Arabella.  On our way back from a trip to Hermanus my colleague and I found an oasis of Rivendell Chef Thomas Sinn Whale Cottagefood, in the middle of nowhere, offering a whale of a good value.

Rivendell is referred to in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, ‘Lord of the Rings’ amongst others, and means ‘deeply cloven valley‘, referring to the Bot River valley lying between two mountains.  The wine estate Rivendell is owned by Austrian couple Heimo and Maria Talhammer, and they invited Chef Thomas to open the restaurant on their farm three months ago.  The restaurant building is set back on the estate, and is not visible from the road to Hermanus.  It was previously the tasting and functions venue, but the Continue reading →

Cape Town & Winelands Winter Restaurant specials 2014 (and winter closures)!

Restaurant fireplaceThe Winter 2014 specials for more than 90 Cape Town and Winelands restaurants follow below, and are updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials, and the feedback about your meals at these restaurants:

Cape Town

*   Umi in Camps Bay: 3 course set menu R260, 5 courses R360, both include a shared bottle of Warwick First Lady. Order 3 meals off a la carte menu, get the 4th free.  Slow cooked shortrib R110, Karan beef sirloin R95, Japanese beer marinated Karan beef fillet R120, pork belly R90, warm salmon and black bean R120, and fish & fries R85.  Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 10/5/14)

*   Pepenero in Mouille Point : Order 3 meals and get 4th (cheapest) free; Sirloin R89, Rump R89, Lamb cutlets R99, Seafood platter R149, Sushi platter R129, Crayfish tails R169, Veal schnitzel R95, Soup of day R40,  Prawn platter R139, Oxtail R110, and Osso Buco R89.  Half price sushi (selected items) all day. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (updated 10/5/14)

*    5 Rooms, Alphen Boutique Hotel: 2 courses R170; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R220; 3 courses R 220; 3 courses plus bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R 270. Sirloin R95, Baby chicken R95, Braised oxtail R110, Seafood bouillabaisse R135, Grilled Prawn R99, Slow braised lamb shank R115. Tel (021) 795-6313 (updated 10/5/14)

*   Zenzero, Camps Bay:    2 courses R160; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R210;  3 courses Continue reading →

Madame Zingara pitches her ‘Victoria’ Spiegel tent in the V&A Waterfront for ‘The Miracle Tour’!

The V&A Waterfront is a magnificent location for the new Madame Zingara Theatre of Dreams ‘The Miracle Tour’ show, which kicked off in the Belgium-made Spiegel tent last week, and will remain in the Mother City for another four months or more.   It must be one of the slickest ‘restautainment’ operations, feeding about 400 patrons each night, with unbelievable service and amazing entertainment.  Owner Richard Griffin is the ultimate showmaster, and just gets better at it year after year.

Located across the Aston Martin showroom, in which building there is ample and reasonably priced parking, the Theatre of Dreams is in the small parking area alongside the cinema parking exit, making it easy to get to.  GM and Ringmaster Marvin Haddon told us that they had negotiated with the V&A Waterfront management for a long time to obtain a space, and that the retail management company is being very supportive in making their Cape Town run a success.  The marquee tent is better protected against the infamous south-easter than in most other locations in Cape Town, if one remembers where Griffin has had to pitch his tent in the past, including the bottom end of Adderley Street under the highway bridge, and in the bush at Century City!  The marquee is not very visible, as branding has been reduced to ‘MZ’ with pink hearts, at the front and back of the area, with faux swans, more hearts, warthogs, and more. One enters into a smallish reception area with a bar, and a number of the show characters stand outside for photo opportunities, some as ‘frozen statues’.  A choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is offered, and even Richard was waiting outside, saying hello to his patrons.  The ‘check-in’ was painless, nothing as complicated as it was at now ex-Vaudeville, which was a Madame Zingara ‘substitute’ in Cape Town for a  while, having featured ex-Madame Zingara star Irit Noble.  Marvin made it an even more special evening, coming to check on us regularly, and made us feel like very special guests, an amazing ability the Madame Zingara staff has.  They really seem to love their jobs, are looked after well, seem to enjoy dressing up, and know where the boundary lies in dealing with customers. Griffin (right, with The Specifics) wrote in his invitation letter that he is proud of the employment his show can offer, with a ‘R2,2 million on group payroll’.  Once inside, one sees more frozen statues, the one in honour of Alexander McQueen attracting attention especially.  The Madame Zingara Photography Emporium has two seats, and allows one to take photographs within a beautiful frame of flowers.  One can have face-painting done and can buy hats and other party decorations.

‘Victoria’, with her stained glass windows, can seat 437 patrons, we were told, and one does not feel cramped.  The stage runs down the middle of the tent, half way, almost like a fashion ramp, the end part being raised up or down, and also revolving, used for amazing effects.  Depending on the size of one’s party, one is seated at tables on a raised section further back for larger groups.  Tables near the stage run the risk of being picked on, as one gentlemen came to regret wearing his striped ‘pyjama shirt’.   Our host and waiter Jason chose to play the little red devil, and he was charming, nothing being too much trouble.  He did struggle to get us to drink more than some wine and sparkling wine, and lots of water.  The marquee is very cool when one arrives, being airconditioned, but it got hotter and hotter inside, being sold out on Thursday evening.  The table has a display of red flowers with the table number, but is removed after one is seated to make more space.  A winelist offers wines and ‘bubbles’ at reasonable prices, but does not specify the vintages. Sparkling wines include Pierre Jourdan Brut (R50/R190), Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel (R195), and Moët & Chandon (R650); Madame’s house white wine (R35/R120), La Motte Sauvignon Blanc (R155), Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc (R185), Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc (R135) and more; Madame’s red wine costs R40/R135, Rupert & Rothschild Classique (R220), Beyerskloof Pinotage (R140), and more.

The action never stops once one sits down, and Cathy Specific (who had ‘her’ own show ‘Cathy Pacific’, and right in the main photograph) welcomes the audience, table by table, as long lost friends, in ‘her’ blue air hostess uniform.  Once we were taken through the four course menu, and dietary adjustments were requested, the starter portion of dipping sticks, cheeses, a cream of sweet potato soup, a peppadew dip, tsatziki, hummus, kalamata and green olives, and nuts was brought to the table.  A highlight of the evening was being taken to see the kitchen, in which Chef Lee Cox is in charge.  Every night he and his team prepare 430 portions of each course, and it is run as a military operation, timing being of the essence, songs being his cue as to when the food must come out of the kitchen. The waiting staff literary run from the kitchen into the marquee, ensuring that the food remains hot, and the dessert cold. Chef Lee worked at Five Flies previously, and said that he orders 1 ton of AAA grade Karan beef fillet (their signature main course) a month. Stock take is done weekly, and on Tuesdays he receives the food delivery to the value of about R110000 for the week ahead. They are recycling conscious, and have a good daily rubbish collection service in the V&A. He has a ‘culinary kitchen crew’ of 28, and ‘everyone knows what to do’, he said.  He is proud of his good storage facilities.  Impressive was that Chef Lee came to our table after the main course had been served, to personally receive our feedback.

The first act of the show is introduced by MC Mr C (left in main photograph), a local who has worked in similar shows in Germany, and he reminded one of the MC in ‘Cabaret‘, with a wicked sense of humour and a German accent.  Cathy Specific too is funny, and has an amazing figure, whatever the outfit.  Two acrobats (Sam and Justine call themselves Adage) inside a chandelier-shaped ring, were followed by a handsome Lisa and Daniel dancing to Tango-type music which picks up pace, as does that of the dancing, with elegance and grace. The Specifics have evolved from the Three Tons of Fun, and have grown to four members, singing popular hits.

The second course was a tasty butternut and potato ravioli served on a bed of wild mushrooms.  The second act started off with Mr C transforming himself into Marlene Dietrich, and singing a popular ‘Falling in love again‘.  Three Russians (The Strongmen Sergei, Sergei and Alexander) look like wrestlers, two being massive and the third small in comparison, perform amazing acrobatic feats, never putting a foot wrong.  Two further performers Miles and George, The Acurians, do somersault flips, one on the soles of the other, sometimes doing double, and even triple flips, not all successful.  The performers were so professional that when they lost their footing, they did the section again, and added an extra flip, as if it had been choreographed like that for the show!

My main course choice of Venison Wellington was a hefty portion of Kudu loin served with spinach and wrapped with mushrooms and pastry, and mash.  I was envious of Katie’s sesame seed encrusted Norwegian salmon, served with lemongrass and litchi, teriyaki sauce, and a fruit salsa, a work of art.  The third option is a vegetarian one, which includes marinated tofu.  The most popular main course is the beef fillet, served with a chocolate chili sauce.

The third act started with a splash, Sam showing a leg and then an arm in the bath, and got out of the bath, splashing her wet hair on the patrons seated around her and doing some acrobatic acts too.  While she and the bath disappeared into the stage, the bath reappeared almost instantly, this time with Mr C, also having fun in the bath!  Oompah type music inspired what must have been German patrons to get onto the stage, and enjoy themselves dancing whilst everyone else was eating.  They had to be asked to return to their seats.

The final course is the piece de resistance, being Death by Chocolate, a platter with a delicious Tiramisu, a chocolate brownie, a hot phyllo cigar, and a ball of Gorgonzola infused chocolate ice cream.  Just when one thinks that the show is over, the fourth act starts, with a Rocky Horror Show ‘Time Warp’ dance in which everyone participates, guided by Cathy Specific.  One of the most unbelievable acts is that of Mongolian contortionist Vicky, who bends her body into the most unusual shapes. Sam does some more smart acrobatic moves above the audience, and is followed by two drumming and rope whipping Argentinians.  A giant sized disco ball is erected, and the audience that doesn’t have to get up early the next morning is encouraged to dance.

Madame Zingara delivers on its promise, printed on the winelist: “It has always been our dream to build a space where our working family is inspired and empowered and our guests are welcome to be part of the Madame Zingara magic, even if just for one night. We invite you to step into our world where disbelief is suspended and all things are possible. The Miracle Tour is our tribute to the miracle of life and a celebration of this magical journey”. Whatever problems one may have experienced during the day, will have been forgotten by the time one leaves the world of Madame Zingara!

Note: One is not allowed to photograph the acts during the show, so we have used those from the Madame Zingara website and Facebook page.

Madame Zingara: The Miracle Tour, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.  Tel  0861 623263. www.madamezingara.com Twitter: @Madame_Zingara  Tuesday – Saturday, until mid-year.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Spier Biodynamic Farm: Pasture-reared beef, lamb, and chicken taste so good because they eat so good!

I had heard of @FarmerAngus McIntosh, as he calls himself on Twitter, for the first time at Caffé Milano a year ago, when I asked them about the origin of their incredibly yellow eggs. Vanessa Quellec, Pastry chef at the time, gave me a bound booklet about Spier’s Biodynamic Farm, describing the pasture-reared production of beef, chicken, lamb and eggs. Yesterday I spent an interesting afternoon with South Africa’s ‘Al Gore’ and ‘Michael Pollan’!

Angus McIntosh fell into farming whilst building his large home on the Spier farm, renting from his father-in-law Dick Enthoven.  He had been a management accountant and worked in London at Goldman Sachs.  It was reading Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘ that turned his career and life around, and now he is this country’s only pasture-fed meat and egg supplier to most of the top restaurants in the Cape, and soon to expand to Johannesburg too. “I wanted to produce food that I could eat with a clean conscience“, he said. Angus is young, walks barefoot, speaks fluent Zulu, and looks very relaxed for being the meat supplier to a collection of the top restaurants. I was surprised that his phone did not ring all the time.  He has ordering and delivery organised, with a once a week delivery to Cape Town and the Winelands.  Orders are placed by chefs on Tuesday,  but Farmer Angus can assist in case of need.  One can hear that he has become friends with many leading chefs in the past two years of operating his business, and he reflected how tough business was for restaurants in May, June and July, which he could see in terms of their orders decreasing sharply. In this period Farmer Angus learnt ‘Expectation Management’, in planning his production to supply chefs consistently.  Since the beginning of this month business has boomed, he said. Restaurants that serve Farmer Angus’ produce, which is cut to their specification (Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine is an exception, taking a whole carcass which he cuts up himself) include Delaire Graff, Buitenverwachting, Pierneef à La Motte, The Tasting Room, The Mount Nelson (for which Farmer Angus is rearing guinea fowl with his chickens especially, he told me), Rust en Vrede, Terroir, The Round House, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, 96 Winery Road, Bread and Wine, and Eight at Spier.

Farmer Angus’ wife was in London for business yesterday, and is only involved in the running of the Spier empire in planting indigenous and endemic trees and shrubs on the farm, these not only acting as a wind break, but also adding nutrients to the soil and attracting insects, which helps bring balance back to nature on the farm.   They also have a vegetable and herb garden, delivering only to Eight at Spier, but elderflowers are supplied to Aubergine, Le Quartier Français, The Round House, and Rust en Vrede.

When he explained about the inhumane ‘production’ of chicken, Farmer Angus’ real passion comes to the fore.  He said that 98 % of our supermarket chickens are battery hens, whose beaks are cut to prevent them from ‘cannabilising’ each other in the small space in which they grow.  At Spier no de-beaking takes place, Farmer Angus saying that this is ‘unethical and inhumane’.  His produce is ‘honestly priced’, he says, not adding any brine to his chicken feed, and his chicken rearing does not cause any environmental damage – in fact, it is adding to nature.  The growing of feed for cattle production is what is causing the environmental damage, and he said that if only 10 % of the world’s cows were reared his way, then all carbon problems would be eliminated, and the carbon would be stored in the soil.  He explained about the mass production happening at the country’s two major beef suppliers Chalmar and Karan, these brand names are often specified on menus (i.e. at Reuben’s), but their production methods do not meet Farmer Angus’ approval, the latter farm only having 10 square meter per animal, they spray the animals per aeroplane, and inject the cattle. Farmer Angus highlighted Chef Christiaan Campbell of Delaire Graff as the biggest champion of Spier’s grass-fed meat production.  Spier has a mix of cattle, including Nguni, Hereford and Beefmasters, as well as Dormer lambs.

We drove around the 600 hectare farm, on which the grapes are grown for the award-winning Spier wines, and Farmer Angus uses 54 hectare for his meat and egg production.  He showed me the chicken production in its various stages. I thought the chicks listening to beautiful classical music was very cute, giving them a harmonious start to life.  They are moved into different sections based on age, and ultimately are placed outside in the ‘pastured poultry houses’ he calls Eggmobiles, which are mobile nesting vehicles for 80 chickens each, 12 square meters in size, in which the eggs are laid, and which are moved daily.  I saw the difference in height of the pasture from the previous day compared to the section for the next day, and the chicken manure goes back into the soil, helping to regrow the grass, a natural cycle. His chicken are slaughtered by hand, ‘as humanely as possible’.  Farmer Angus contrasted this to the 25000 chickens a day slaughtered by County Fair, with their questionable claim of ‘home of quality chicken’, their feed containing chicken parts too.  Farmer Angus mixes and matches the pastures for his animals, and has to safeguard his lamb section electronically at night, to prevent theft.   Grass-fed meat is healthier, with omega 3 to 6 fatty acids in balance, reducing cholesterol, and is healthier to eat for diabetics.

Farmer Angus is so passionate about what he does, that he encourages chefs and their kitchen teams and restaurant staff to visit the farm.  Mother City Slow Food visited the farm earlier this year, and while I was unable to attend, I participated in a buying share of parts of a carcass with other members.  Farmer Angus has just introduced home delivery to private homes too, but then one must take half or a whole lamb, at R91,20 per kg.  Eggs cost R33 per dozen, and chicken R45,60 per kg.  Delivery for orders over R500 is free. Melissa’s, Giovanni’s, Tokara DeliCatessen, Wellness Warehouse, Continental Butchery in Kloof Street, and the Somerset West Spar are some of the outlets selling Farmer Angus’ produce.

Diclosure: Farmer Angus gave me a packet of mince, a jar of chicken stock, and a dozen eggs to take home to try.

Spier Biodynamic Farm, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch.  Tel 082 680 8978.  No website. Twitter: @FarmerAngus.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage